Cut Your Hair in Magnolia!!!!

A group of Texas students who say they have been “severely punished” for wearing long hair to school are suing their school district for gender discrimination.

The seven Magnolia Independent School District students, aged between 7 and 17, claim that they have been subject to “severe, ongoing, and escalating harms” stemming from a discriminatory policy that prohibits boys, but not girls, from wearing long hair.

According to the lawsuit — filed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project on behalf of the students and their families — the students have been barred from extracurricular activities, separated from their peers, and even suspended because they don’t conform to the district’s stereotypical notions of gender.

Image: Magnolia Independent School District (KPRC)

“At a time when students have already been through so much due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is outrageous that Magnolia ISD administrators are pushing students out of school because of their gender and hair,” Brian Klosterboer, an attorney with the ACLU of Texas told the Daily News in an statement.

The district continues to deny those students their “right to a public education free from discrimination” despite repeated warnings that its policy is unconstitutional, Klosterboer added.

In September 2020 the ACLU of Texas sent a letter to more than 450 school districts across the state urging them to reexamine their “unconstitutional and discriminatory” dress and grooming code policies.

Currently, Magnolia ISD still requires that hair “for male students” must be “no longer than the bottom of a dress shirt collar, bottom of the ear, and out of the eyes.”

According to the legal nonprofit, the rule violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and Title IX “because public school districts cannot treat some students worse because of their gender or require students to conform to gender stereotypes.”

“My son has never once gotten his hair cut,” said Azucena Laredo, whose 9-year-old son A.C. was suspended for over a month and also pushed to unenroll from classes.

“His dad and uncle both wear long hair. His sister even wears long hair at the same school as him without any problem. But Magnolia ISD has harshly punished my son and driven him out of school entirely because he is a boy with long hair. This is unconscionable and the district needs to stop harming our children,” she said.

 

The policy also affects nonbinary students, according to the complaint.

T.M., an 11-year-old student who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, has worn long hair for the last couple of years.

“Sometimes T.M. expresses their gender identity more like a boy, but other times T.M. expresses their gender identity more like a girl,” according to the suit. “If T.M. is forced to wear short hair based on gender stereotypes associated with their gender assigned at birth, T.M. will lose a vital part of who they are and sacrifice an essential element of their gender expression.”

According to T.M.’s mother Danielle Miller, Magnolia ISD “has lost sight of what’s most important and keeps inflicting harm on our kids.”

She said the students shouldn’t be “forced to conform to gender stereotypes” or be denied an education simply because of their gender.

“Parents, students, and members of our community have filed grievances and spoken at Magnolia ISD school board meetings to tell the district to stop punishing our kids and change the policy,” she added, vowing to continue to fight for her child.

“We will not be ignored nor go away quietly while our children are disciplined simply because of their gender,” she said.

According to the lawsuit, the district’s policy is applied arbitrarily. Some boys, particularly members of the high school football teams, “continue wearing visibly long hair that violates the dress code.”

Close Menu